End Cockfighting Press Release

Animal Wellness Action Applauds Cleveland County Sheriff for Raiding Cockfighting Operation

Dozens of Cockfighting Arenas, Hundreds of Major Cockfighting Breeding Operations Continue to Operate in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City — Animal Wellness Action (AWA) applauded Cleveland County Sheriff Chris Amason and his deputies for putting a stop to a major cockfight in Noble.  This bust comes weeks after a bust in Bryan County that caught as many as 300 individuals at a major fighting operation in the Texoma region. Sheriff’s deputies in both cases found all the tell-tale signs of cockfighting, with roosters prepared for fighting and a range of cockfighting paraphernalia.

“Sheriff Amason is upholding the law by cracking down on the barbaric practice of staged animal fighting,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “There’s nothing good or noble about strapping knives or curved ice picks to the legs of animals, putting them in a pit, and watching them carve each other up just for human amusement and illegal gambling.”

The raid occurred on the morning of April 18th.

In 2020, AWA and the Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF) announced the results of a major investigation showing a major cockfighting industry openly operating in the state. Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, co-chair of the National Law Enforcement Council of AWA and AWF, provided evidence to three U.S. Attorneys in Oklahoma about 21 individuals operating major cockfighting complexes in the state.  Included in that cache of information are 13 videos made by a Philippines-based broadcaster featuring Oklahoma-based cockfighters who marketed their birds to other cockfighters in the broadcasts.

This incident in Cleveland County is the latest evidence of widespread cockfighting and trafficking of fighting animals in the Sooner State, despite a state law making it a felony to stage fights between birds or even to train or possess them for fighting. Cockfighting and possession of fighting animals, along with transporting them across state lines, is also a felony under federal law.

“Cockfighting is a serious crime, and the people involved must get the message that the law is going to come down on them if they continue to engage in criminal acts of animal cruelty,” noted General Edmondson.

AWA and AWF revealed that Oklahoma is home to some of the biggest traffickers of fighting animals in the United States. Nine Oklahoma cockfighters shipped 3,356 animals to Guam for fighting purposes over a recent three-year period, according to an investigation conducted by the organizations. Through public records requests to the Guam Department of Agriculture, AWF and AWA obtained nearly 2,500 pages of avian shipping records dated November 2016 to September 2019, with more than 500 shipments. Oklahoman cockfighters accounted for more than a third of all birds illegally shipped to Guam.

AWA and AWF are continuing their investigations. Mr. Pacelle reminds Oklahoma citizens that Animal Wellness Action provides a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of any individual for involvement in illegal cockfighting activities.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News

Animal Wellness Foundation is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.